A quarter of music industry workers in the UK have had no work in the EU since Brexit, according to a new survey.
The survey, carried out by the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM), found that 47.4% of professional musicians have had less work in Europe following Brexit. More than a quarter (27.8%) had booked no work in Europe at all since the decision to leave the EU.
The ISM said the impact of Brexit on the music sector had been “devastating”. Restrictions had impaired the viability of making a living as a musician, it said.
“Brexit has been a disaster for the music industry,” said ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts. “Musicians are facing higher costs, more paperwork and longer delays at borders. This is making it harder for them to tour and work in Europe, which is a major market for the UK music industry.”
The survey found that 40% of musicians had had work cancelled since Brexit, and almost as many (39%) said they had been forced to turn down work.
Musicians also reported facing higher costs for travel, visas and insurance. They said the new rules were also making it more difficult to collaborate with European musicians and promoters.
The mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston said was “quietly killing our world-class music sector” and its impact could not be overstated. “It is time for the government to pull its finger out and reverse some of the damage being done before it is too late.”
The ISM is calling on the government to do more to support the music industry. It has urged the government to negotiate a new visa waiver agreement with the EU and to simplify the rules for touring and working in Europe.
“The government needs to wake up to the damage that Brexit is doing to the music industry,” said Annetts. “Musicians are the lifeblood of our cultural sector, and they need our support now more than ever.”
The survey findings come at a time when the music industry is already facing a number of challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.
The ISM said Brexit was adding to these challenges and making it harder for musicians to make a living.
“The music industry is a vital part of the UK economy,” said Annetts. “It generates billions of pounds in revenue and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. We need to do everything we can to support musicians and the music industry, and to ensure that they can continue to thrive.”